‘I WANTED TO LEAVE BE­CAUSE I WAS FED UP OF BE­ING THUMPED’

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - STATE OF THE CHURCH -

Gay Byrne says he was belted and thumped by the Chris­tian Broth­ers for one rea­son or an­other at school in Synge Street in the 1940s, but he is grate­ful to the or­der for giv­ing him an ed­u­ca­tion.

“The pos­i­tive as­pect of the Chris­tian Broth­ers is that with­out them, peo­ple of my back­ground would not have re­ceived any ed­u­ca­tion of any kind.

“The ques­tion of fees was never men­tioned. Every quar­ter or so, an en­ve­lope was sent home via each pupil, and then sealed and brought back.

“I know that there must have been a good few guys in my classes whose fam­i­lies could not af­ford to put any­thing in the en­ve­lope. No­body was put out of the school be­cause their par­ents could not af­ford the fees.

“They gave us a good all-round ed­u­ca­tion. The com­pul­sory Ir­ish was a bit of a bug­bear, but they were obliged to fol­low it.

“The down­side was cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment for dis­obe­di­ence of any kind, or things like not turn­ing up with your ex­er­cise book.

“If they wanted to hit you on the head, they used the hand. They used the leather for slaps on the hand — four of the best, or six of the best.

“They were rough and they were tough, and they all came from the same ru­ral, un­e­d­u­cated back­ground. And of course, they were re­cruited as Chris­tian Broth­ers at a dis­grace­fully young age.

“Af­ter the In­ter Cert, I de­cided I wanted to leave be­cause I was fed up with be­ing thumped around the place.

“As a bribe, my mother and fa­ther bought me a bi­cy­cle, which was the first bike I had.

“I went back, and in fifth and sixth year there wasn’t very much cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, be­cause we were older guys — and we knew what we were about.”

In­ter­views by Kim Bie­len­berg

PHOTO: MARK CONDREN

Bribe: Gay Byrne only re­turned to school af­ter his par­ents gave him a bike.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.